Publisher Associated Newspapers started its court appeal against a judge’s ruling that it invaded the privacy of the Duchess of Sussex by publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father, arguing that she knew the letter would potentially be published.
Markle sued for the invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website that reproduced large portions of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle.
A High Court judge sided with the duchess in February, ruling that the paper’s publication of the letter was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.”
Today, lawyer Andrew Caldecott sought to overturn that ruling by arguing that the letter was not written as an “intimate communication for her father’s eyes only.”
The publisher was ordered in March to print a front-page statement stating it had infringed the Markle’s copyright, but the statement has not been published pending the appeal.
Three senior judges preside over the appeal, which is expected to last three days. A ruling is due at a later date.
With this in mind, Steven Heffer, Partner and Head of Media & Privacy at Collyer Bristow, commented: “Meghan Markle‘s case was a strong one both on copyright and privacy grounds. So much so that the judge was willing to grant summary judgment for most of the claim. The newspaper was hoping to have a full-blown trial with cross-examination of Royal AIdes over the drafting of the letter-as well as unproved allegations that Megan had provided private information to the authors of a controversial book.”
“The lack of a trial meant the Mail was deprived of the drama of the court case. It’s motive for appealing seems obvious but the legal merits of an appeal are less clear. It was certainly fairly unusual for the case to be decided in a summary way but the senior media judge who dealt with the case was very clear on his reasons for the decision.”